Welcome To The Sport Custom Website – The Birth of Sports Cars and Custom Cars in Postwar America

thumb copy

Hi Gang…

What greater way to open up our new website on Sport Custom Cars than to do so as a precursor to a historic moment – the first recognition of Sport Custom Automobiles at a world-class event.  This momentous occasion will occur at  the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance scheduled for August 19, 2012.  Here’s what’s shown about this class of cars when you visit the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance website:

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Announcements Features and Classes for 2012:

Sport Customs (1930s–1950s) – This class will feature one-of-a-kind cars built in the United States on modified American production chassis or hand-built chassis

Click here to review the full list of classes at Pebble for 2012

Our goal with the Sport Custom website is to begin to reveal this genre of cars from their inception in the prewar years to their ultimate culmination which ended in the late 1950s.  I hope this will be a fun enterprise for all.

Who Created The Term – Sport Custom?

Sport Custom cars were first defined and recognized by Dan Post of Arcadia, California, as part of his publications documenting the custom car and sports car movement that started in the prewar years.   His first publication was titled “Remodeler’s Manual For Restyling Your Car – Informal Notes and Observations of Body Alterations to Bring Your Auto Lasting Style,” which was published in 1944 – the first such book of its kind in America.  A picture of the first page of this publication appears below:

Several other Dan Post books followed in 1945 and 1946, but it was his California Custom Car Photo Album published in 1947 that revealed for the first time, photos of the cars that were being built across America – many of which he would soon identify with the term “Sport Custom.”

What Is A Sport Custom Car?

Sport Custom cars began to take shape immediately before World War II, and these are important – rarely documented – years for the heritage of American sports cars and custom cars.  As you look into this history, you’ll see that for a few short years, custom cars and sports cars were often a blend of both types of automobiles – what we call “Sport Customs.”  They shared characteristics of both types of cars.  It was from this common heritage that each type of car began to diverge into their respective style and design – American sports cars and American custom cars – each beloved by enthusiasts today.

Who, What, When, Where, and Why:

But we aren’t the first to walk the trail of these important cars and their stories.  Recognition for this class of automobiles has been a long time coming, but there were others before who recognized the special nature of these cars and how they fit into the history of both custom and sports cars in America.  In the next few weeks, we’ll introduce you to:

* Tim and Tom Hutchins who ran the Sport Custom Registry in the 1970s and early ‘80s – a group of like-minded individuals who appreciated not only Sport Custom cars but also the fiberglass sports cars of the ‘50s.

* Ray Scroggins who wrote the definitive article on “Sport Customs” that appeared in Special-Interest Autos in 1977 – a magazine founded by our good friend Michael Lamm.

* John Gunnell – who reviewed many of these cars in another article in a 2011 article on Sport Custom cars that appeared in Kustoms & Hot Rods magazine.

There’s a lot of territory to cover in this genre of cars, and over time we hope to provide a database of cars and stories – much like we have provided on our Forgotten Fiberglass website.

Gerry Huth’s 1948 Custom Cadillac – One of the Earliest Postwar Sport Custom Cars Built

The Design of the Sport Custom Website:

Determining the design of a website is a challenge.  In creating the Sport Custom website, we wanted to incorporate a vintage look, historical relevance, and recognize important contributors to the history of these cars.  After much debate, we determined that the best approach would be to honor both Dan Post who was the first to recognize Sport Custom cars in literature as well as one of the folks who collaborated with him – Bob Gurr.

Bob’s book in 1952 – How To Draw Cars of Tomorrow  not only led the way in inspiring young men across America to design their own cars, but also served as our template for the design and theme of our Sport Custom website.  Bob also recognized some beautifully built Sport Custom cars in his 1954 book – The ABC’s of Custom How.  We’ll cover that in our next story.   In the meantime, shown below is the cover of Gurr’s ’52 book on How To Draw Cars of Tomorrow.


Honoring a Friend And Mentor — Paul Terhorst

I’d like to close each story here at Sport Custom with a tribute to my friend and mentor in classic and special interest cars – Paul Terhorst.   When I was 14 years old, Paul took me under his wing and fanned the flames of enthusiasm for all things automotive.  The foundation of my appreciation for vintage automobiles stems from Paul’s guidance at a formative time of my life.

For as long as I can remember, Paul has always signed his correspondence in the following way:

“Yours For Longer Hoods…”

It’s a unique and creative way to recognize his passion for prewar Packard automobiles – large elegant automobiles with “very long hoods.”

Since having a “longer hood” is one of the hallmark features that many Sport Custom Cars have (the cockpit is often pushed back, the engine moved rearward, and the hood lengthed), it only seems appropriate that I honor my friend and mentor Paul by using his catch-phrase at the end of each story.

Summary: 

So….. welcome aboard and hang onto your Sport Custom hats.   We’ve got a lot of stories to write, history to share, and intrigue to discuss – and much of it before the August 19, 2012, rollout date when Sport Customs hit the lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  This will truly be a milestone in the history of American Sport Custom cars.

I hope you enjoyed our “inaugural story” here at Sport Custom.  And for the first time, I’m honored to close today by saying…

“Yours For Longer Hoods…” (thanks Paul!)

Geoff


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge